Being “thrown in jail” is a scary concept. Being thrown in jail when you did not do anything wrong can also be demeaning and infuriating, and it can have life-changing consequences, even if you are released. What can you do in this situation to right a wrong?
If you are wrongfully imprisoned, you may be able to sue for wrongful imprisonment in California. Ultimately, a court could award you monetary compensation for the emotional and physical effects of your ordeal.
What Is Wrongful Imprisonment?
Wrongful imprisonment, or false imprisonment, is the act of deliberately taking away a person’s liberty without being legally allowed or justified to do so. A person can be stripped of their freedom by force, physical barriers (like a jail cell), threats, or through being tricked (deceit or fraud).
A false arrest is also a form of wrongful imprisonment. If arrested by an officer of the law without a warrant, you may be able to sue for false arrest. You may also be able to sue for false arrest if you were detained by a private citizen who did not have a legitimate reason to make a citizen’s arrest.
The state of California does not recognize false arrest and false imprisonment as two separate claims. False arrest is instead considered a more specific way of saying “false imprisonment.” Therefore, if you have a claim for false arrest, it would be filed with the court as “false imprisonment” in California.
For a free legal consultation, call (310) 928-9347
What If the Arresting Officer Has a Warrant?
Wrongful imprisonment can occur even if a warrant was issued before the arrest. A warrant issued due to a fraudulent claim made by an officer can lead to an illegitimate arrest. It is difficult to prove wrongful imprisonment once a warrant is issued.
This is because illegitimate warrants can be made to appear valid as the law often shields officers. If an officer can prove that he or she was reasonably doing his or her job, then they have not violated your rights. This is true even if the experience caused you a great deal of distress at the time.
The arrest may still be considered lawful, even if an officer admits to not having a warrant, provided that they can show there was a valid reason for making the arrest. For instance, if someone commits a crime in the officer’s presence, he is within his right to arrest that person without a warrant. An attorney may be able to prove that an invalid warrant was indeed issued.
Can You Be Falsely Arrested by a Peace Officer?
Yes. In the state of California, any peace officer has the right to make an arrest. However, making a false arrest can have serious repercussions. A peace officer is not limited to, but can include any of the following:
- A park ranger
- A correctional officer
- A transit officer
- A fire marshal
- A welfare fraud investigator
Click to contact our Criminal Defense Lawyers today
How Can a Private Citizen Be Guilty of Wrongful Imprisonment?
In the state of California, a private citizen has the right to make a citizen’s arrest. A citizen’s arrest occurs when a private citizen either restrains a perpetrator until the police arrive or calls for an officer, leading to the perpetrator’s arrest.
A citizen’s arrest is lawful if the private citizen can prove that the perpetrator either committed a crime or was about to commit a crime. This is often seen in cases of shoplifting. If a merchant suspects someone of shoplifting, then they have the right to restrain the perpetrator until the police arrive.
In this example, the merchant may be guilty of wrongful imprisonment if they were unreasonable in detaining the suspected shoplifter. This would mean arresting someone who never gave the merchant a valid reason to believe they stole anything nor were about to steal something.
Complete a Free Case Evaluation form now
What Are Your Options If You Have Been Wrongfully Arrested?
It’s important to know what to do if you are a victim who wants to sue for wrongful arrest in California. When dealing with wrongful imprisonment, you have four legal options to consider.
File a Complaint Against the Arresting Officer With the Police Department
If you believe the officer’s actions in arresting you were over the line, you can make a complaint, demanding that they face repercussions. The officer could face suspension, retraining, and reassignment. In extreme cases, this could result in the officer losing their job and even facing criminal charges.
File a Motion to Exclude Any Evidence Obtained As a Result of the Arrest
If you were charged with a crime, you can file a motion to suppress any evidence that was obtained as a result of the false arrest. Any evidence discovered as a result of the unlawful arrest can be dismissed from the criminal trial.
File a Lawsuit Against the Officer and Department for Civil Rights Violations
You have the right to file a lawsuit against the arresting officer and the police department for a civil rights violation. However, civil lawsuits against police officers can be tricky. The officer may be protected by a legal doctrine known as qualified immunity.
If you are able to sue for wrongful imprisonment in California and win your case, the court may order an injunction. This injunction could require the department to retrain officers, change their arresting policies, or fire the arresting officer.
Sue the Arresting Officer and Department Demanding Monetary Damages
A lawsuit against the department and arresting officer may also demand monetary compensation. You have the right to make claims for a variety of damages that you may have suffered as a result of your wrongful imprisonment, including:
- Medical costs
- Lost wages
- Pain and suffering
- Civil rights violations
Recovering monetary damages can be very difficult in these cases. Government officials have a lot of protection while performing actions in the line of duty. Hiring a lawyer with experience in these types of cases is essential.
When Can You Sue for Wrongful Imprisonment?
You may be able to sue for wrongful imprisonment if you are innocent of the crime you were charged with or there was no reason to suspect you of the crime. You could be entitled to additional damages if you were injured during the arrest or restrained for an unreasonable amount of time.
If you are unsure whether or not you have a case for wrongful imprisonment in California, you can contact a California criminal defense attorney to learn more about your rights under the law.